Presentation of the JVC DLA-X500
The JVC DLA-X500, a high-end home theater projector with 4K E-shift3 technology has now been in a detailed review and we would like to share it with you, dear readers!
The projector JVC DLA-X500 (also know is the USA as the JVC DLA-RS49U) was released at the end of the year 2013 and is now sold new for approximately 3400€ (and used for a lot less!).
A few months ago at the end of 2015, the JVC DLA-X500 was officialy replaced with the brand new JVC DLA-X5000 (also know in the USA as the JVC DLA-RS400) with a price of 4500€. For many home-theater enthousiasts, this is the opportunity to get the previous generation (JVC DLA-X500) for a fraction of the price. And for many others, this is the time to upgrade their JVC DLA-X500.
We will be reviewing the JVC DLA-X5000 very soon and wanted to provide you a fair comparison with the JVC DLA-X500. So we got our hands on a JVC DLA-X500 with almost no hours on the the lamp, and here is the review. Enjoy! 😉
The JVC DLA-X500 is a Full HD 3D projector using the 6th generation of D-ILA panels and the 3rd generation of the 4K-simulation called E-shift3.
The design of JVC projector has been the same for many generation and that for a good reason. The design and the cooling associated to it has been proved reliable over all the generation and the metal casing gives a very solid impression and we liked it a lot.
The JVC DLA-X500 is using the 6th generation of D-ILA panels (JVC reflective LCD technology). JVC claims that the generation change between the JVC X35 to the JVC DLA-X500 was associated with:
- 40% narrower pixel gaps
- improved wire grid
- improved brightness
- higher native contrast (On-Off)
4K E-shift 3 Technology
JVC is using a E-shift technology to simulate 4K resolution by moving/shifting in the diagonal direction all the pixels by a half pixel.
The result is that the number of pixels is doubled in comparison to Full-HD resolution and almost no structure is visible even when looking up close to the screen. However the number of pixels on the screen is still only half the one of a true 4K-UHD resolution.
The JVC DLA-X500 can accept 4K content (but without HCDP 2.2 protection) and scales it down to the 2 times full HD resolution. It can also upscale a Full-HD content and display it with twice as many pixels using the E-shift.
The down-side of this technology is that the pixels are never displayed all at the same time and the D-ILA panels needs to move very quickly to give the illusion of a higher resolution. In doing so, we can lose some sharpness or contrast intra-picture. We will evaluate those aspects later on.
The projector’s weight is 14,7 kg and it measures 45,5 x 17,9 x 47,2. It is quite a big projector, but not as big as the Epson EH-LS10000 (the biggest we have ever tested).
The throw ratio, which is the distance of the projector to the screen divided by the picture width, varies between 1,4 – 2,8:1. That means that you can get a picture of width 2,5m with only 3,5m between the lens of the projector and the screen.
The JVC DLA-X500 has a motorized zoom and lens shift with memory function. As usual with JVC projectors, the range of the lens shift is large: Vertical: 80% max (up and down with horizontal centered), Horizontal: 34% max (left and right with vertical centered). This means that the projector can be set up in every position very easily.
The menu of the projector is accessible with the remote control, but also with a rear panel on the projector. This can be very helpful in order to use the projector if the remote control is not available or even lost.
The projector JVC DLA-X500 has all connections needed for Full-HD blu-ray playback in the back panel including 2 HDMI 1.4a inputs. However there are no connection HDMI 2.0 with hdcp 2.2 as so the projector is not compatible with 4K-bluray coming out (but the new JVC DLA-X5000 is) without using something like the HDfury Integral to convert the HCDP 2.2 to 1.4. There is a ethernet connection which is very useful to perform the JVC auto-calibration with a laptop and a colorimeter Spyder 4.
The remote control allows for a quick access to all important functionalities like the frame interpolation. Also directly accessible are the controls for the motorized zoom and lens shift. There is also a button to activate the backlight of the remote which is helpful while watching a movie in a dark room. The buttons of the remote control are large enough but the remote stays light and compact and lies easily in the hand.
The projector in action
Full HD Movies in 2D
Our first impression with the JVC X500 when watching our usual test scenes was that the picture was really sharp but stayed natural (without E-shift). The high quality glass lens was for sure one of the reasons combined with relatively good convergence.
The contrast performance of the JVC X500 is impressive with deep black and very good details in dark scenes. Furthermore, with the activation of the dynamic iris function, it can achieve almost perfect black on a totally black picture.
Out of the box the cinema mode was the closest to the REC 709 norm, but some might prefer the natural mode with more saturated colors and a lot of pop. A calibration was however necessary to get the best out of the projector.
After activation of the frame interpolation on the setting “low”, the picture motion is smooth even in the most difficult scenes with travelling. However, while for most scenes, there are almost no artefacts and the picture stays natural, for some other scenes some vertical bands could be observed and were quite distracting. For the more conservative people, we would suggest to let the frame interpolation desactivated and it will be perfect for a 24p cinema experience.
The activation of the MPC (JVC numerical sharpness improvment) had very little effect. We advise you to let it desactivate and to enjoy the high natural sharpness of the JVC DLA-X500 without any artefacts. You can however use a Darbee with the setting on 35% for blu-rays. The result is a very sharp picture which allows to show all the details of your favorite Blu-rays.
The E-shift3 activates the 4K simulation technology with half a pixel shift to get twice the number of pixels on the screen. With E-shift3 activated, the pixel structure disappears almost completely, but in the process the picture gets a bit softer and some moving picture noise was also created. We preferred to leave it desactivated with 1080p sources. The JVC DLA-X500 delivers a very sharp and natural image without E-shift.
Below you can see a few screenshots taken from the Blu-rays “Casino Royale”, “Lucy”, “Mission Impossible”, “Oblivion”, “The Dark Knight” and “Tron Legacy”. You can click on each picture to open it in the original resolution.
Analysis of the Sharpness
Unlike the DLP projectors, the 3LCD projectors, as the name indicates, possess three color matrices for red, green and blue, which are supposed to be aligned perfectly. Naturally, in reality the overlap of the 3LCD matrices is not perfect, often referred to as convergence problem.
Our exemplar showed good convergence which could be easily corrected numerically. The numerical correction works well and can be done without much effort.
E-shift3: 4K simulation
If you activate the E-shift function, the panels vibrate (extremely fast) diagonally by half a pixel. The result is an even finer pixel grid with twice as many pixels.
However, we noticed from up-close that activating the E-shift also generated a kind of moving picture noise. Also the the E-shift engine ON makes the picture look a bit softer.
On the pictures below you can see how the E-shift makes effectively the pixels grid disappear but also the associated softness due to its activation:
Left picture: No E-shift // Right picture: E-shift activated
Sharpness vs. MPC vs E-shift:
Here we make an analysis of the sharpness of the picture with different levels of MPC, the numerical sharpness improvement system of JVC, but also with the activation of the E-shift 4K simulation technology.
On the sharpness test pattern of the reference disc AVS HD 709, we have increased the level of MPC from 0 to 50 to 100 and then switched on the E-shift engine for 4K simulation with MPC from 0 to 50.
We were surprised to see that changing MPC from 0 to 50 has very little effect on the picture sharpness and obviously did not generate artefacts. However, with MPC going from 50 to 100, we see clearly that lines show more and more crosses and the numbers some white ringing.
Additionally, it is visible that the E-shift activation generate crosses on the vertical and horizontal lines on both MPC on 0 and 50. It also makes the picture look softer.
You should click on each picture to open it in the original resolution and zoom in. If you don’t, the resolution of your screen will create some crosses on its own which do no exist in the true picture.
On the screenshot from Oblivion we have compared E-shift OFF and ON with MPC both on 50. Again, the activation of the E-shift makes the picture a bit softer (have a look at the pants or the rock structures).
On the screenshot from Monsters Inc. we have increased the level of MPC from 0 to 50 to 100 with E-shift OFF. Then we have activated E-shift with MPC on the standard 50 value.
It is difficult to see any difference between MPC 0 and 50. With MPC on 100 you see some sharpness improvment but it looks overcooked and numerical.
We advise to desactivate E-shift for 1080p source and put MPC on the setting 0. You will enjoy the very high sharpness of the JVC DLA-X500 without any artifacts! Congrat to JVC for the native sharpness of this projector!
Colors: Out of the box
Out of the box, the projector has 4 predefined modes: Natural, Cinema, Animation and Stage. Every mode was analyzed with the colorimeter i1 Display Pro profiled to the spectrophotometer i1 Pro 2 with the software Chromapure. The measurements were taken off our screen: Elunevision Reference Studio 4K 100 (gain 1).
The mode that is closest to the norm REC 709 is the mode Cinema with an average CIE94 dE of 6.3 for the colors (75% saturation & 75% brightness) and 8.3 for the grayscale. The gamma is not flat with an average of 1.73 and is decreasing with higher IRE. Overall that’s not a very good performance out of the box but this could be specific to the unit we tested. However with a calibration, you can get the best out of the projector and correct a push of the blue color for the grayscale (color temperature of 7627 instead of 6500K), adjust the colors and flatten the gamma around 2.2.
Ideally, you would like to have a flat gamma curve of 2.2 and a CIE94 DeltaE under 2 for all colors and the grayscale. Furthermore, you want to adjust the brightness and contrast to the right level. With that, the black will not be crushed, the white levels will not be clipped and the color will be natural and as close to to the movie producer’s choice as possible.
Here are the Chromapure results for the grayscale and the CIE diagram for a saturation of 100% and brightness amplitude of 100%. The projector is positioned with zoom MAX. The lamp had 73 hours.
The picture width projected on the screen was 245 cm for all these measurements.
Out of the box: detailed predefined mode analysis:
Calibration of the projector
The measurements were taken off our screen: Elunevision Reference Studio 4K 100 (gain 1).
The calibration is based on the “Cinema” mode with the lamp power put on low.
For the color calibration, we used patterns of 75% saturation and 75% brightness.
- Grayscale & RGB analysis:
The Grayscale after calibration of the preset Cinema shows an excellent behavior with an CIE94 DeltaE average of 1.1.
- CIE and color management analysis:
The colors in the CIE after calibration of the mode Cinema show a perfect behavior with all CIE94 DeltaE values below 1.0 and 0.5 as average for 75% brightness and 75% saturation.
- Gamma analysis:
After calibration the gamma curve is still slightly decreasing, but overall quite acceptable with an average of 2.12.
In-depth analysis of all saturation levels after calibration:
For 75% brightness, the JVC DLA-X500 shows an excellent tracking for the saturations below 75% within the CIE diagramm. For 100% saturation the blue color did not track linearly and the deltaE is high. This is also the case for cyan. For all colors and saturations below 75% the deltaE stays below 3. The average error for all colors except blue and cyan is below 2.
Manual Calibration Conclusion (with out of the box initial situation):
The projector JVC DLA-X500 was not exactly easy to calibrate because of the initial situation with the decreasing gamma and non-linear distribution of the color saturations.
However the controls were responsive and we especially like the possibility to calibrate the dark end and “bright” end of the grayscale & gamma independently of the rest. This gives a 4 points control over the grayscale and this is a rare feature that we really appreciated! In the end, the result looked very good.
We did a second manual calibration after running the JVC auto-calibration software on a laptop connected to the JVC DLA-X500 through an ethernet cable while using the colorimeter Spyder 4.
The auto-calibration software is not very intuitive and it took us time to get the projector-computer connection working.
We created a REC709 color space profile with a 2.2 gamma that we loaded up to the JVC DLA-X500 and we then started the auto-calibration.
Based on the autocalibration, we have then perfected the calibration manually.
In the following pictures:
- Autocalibration results= Pre
- Autocalibration & manual calibration afterwards = Post
The autocalibration did a very good job at creating a linear grayscale even if the color balance was off. It was very easy to correct via manual calibration afterwards (a lot easier than before autocal).
The autocalibration did a wonderful job on adjusting the REC709 colors and almost no correction was needed afterwards with the manual calibration.
Note that we did the manual calibration with 75% saturation patterns. The picture below shows the result for 100% saturation.
The autocalibration completely solved the gamma issues we had earlier and provided a solid 2.2 flat gamma. The manual calibration changed it a bit afterwards.
The autocalibration combined to a manual calibration provided reference results for the DeltaE on the color checkers with also excellent skin tones! Remember that a deltaE 94 below 2 is considered as perfect and here we are far below 2!
For 75% brightness, after autocal & manual calibration, we now have all colors tracking linearly in the color space with excellent DeltaE values under 2 for all but the blue with 100% saturation which is still under 3!
The auto-calibration enables to have a linear tracking of the colors and a flat gamma. This allows the manual calibration to get reference results and the result in the movies looked absolutely fantastic!
Thank you JVC for providing us the option of the auto-calibration even if we regret that its use is not very user friendly and that the only colorimeter accepted is the Spyder 4 not well known for it’s accuracy before profiling.
Brightness & Screen size recommandation
After calibration in the low lamp mode the JVC DLA-X500 puts out 689 lumens. This is perfect for a screen width between 2.3m and 3.1m.
Going from the low lamp to the high lamp mode multiplies the brightness by a factor of 1.2.
Closing the iris from 0 to -15 results in getting 60% of the original brightness.
The highest number of Lumens is achieved in the Stage mode, that is in high power mode by default, with 1100 Lumens. It could be useful to watch football on a bright day.
Please click on the table below to get the brightness for all predefined modes and the calibrations. A recommendation for the right screen size is also given.
Advanced contrast measurements
A great number of contrast measurements were made to deliver you results that are unique in the world. Actually, in the different tests of projectors around the world you can often find native contrast measurements (ON-OFF with one picture completely black and one completely white) and sometimes ANSI contrast measurements (checkerboard with 50% white and 50% black).
The problem is that these contrast values are two extremes, but most images from movies are in between.
Have a look at our article where we made a big brightness analysis of 53 movies:
Therefore we have created appropriate patterns in order to give you contrast curves BETWEEN 0% and 50% white in the middle of the screen:
Also our optimized room has the advantage of being transformable into a room with white walls and ceiling. Thus it is easy to compare the contrast performance under very different conditions:
- with opened curtains (comparable to a living room with white walls, reality of home theater in many homes)
- with closed curtains (optimized room with black floor, ceiling and walls)
- measurement at the lens (highest contrast possible, but not reachable in any room)
Illustration of our reversible room:
Left: opened curtains / Right: closed curtains
In the following table are the contrast results measured in the middle of the screen for the JVC DLA-X500:
To visualize these numbers, here the resulting 3 contrast curves.
The scale on the contrast axis is logarithmic to represent the perception of the human eye. For example your eyes will see the same difference between a contrast increase from 1000:1 to 2000:1 and a contrast increase from 10000:1 to 20000:1.
The numbers confirm the reputation of JVC to be a black level champion! The JVC DLA-X500 has the best on-off contrast we measured to date (no dynamic iris activated), which means deep blacks!
In our optimized room we measured at the screen a modified ANSI contrast value of 248:1 (for 50% ADL). At the lens, the modified ANSI contrast value reaches 278:1.
The ANSI contrast tells you, how good a projector can display black next to white. The JVC DLA-X500’s ANSI contrast is good, but not the best. That is why we were able to see vertical streaking in the black parts above and below the white squares of our contrast patterns. This behavior is common for projectors with a very high on-off contrast. Luckily it is not visible in a movie, except on white writings on black background.
The On-off contrast in the ECO mode was 20132:1 with zoom max (Iris open) and 32603:1 with zoom min (Iris closed). That’s reference performance! Congrats to JVC for achieving such high On-Off contrast values!
As you can see in the table above, closing the iris increases the ON-OFF contrast, but also decreases the ANSI contrast. But what happens in between? The following graph gives you the answer:
The gain of contrast by closing the iris is limited to the ON-OFF contrast. The intersection of the two curves is at about 1% white in the picture. For higher ADL the contrast is higher with the iris opened. For example, the ANSI contrast decreases from 278:1 (iris open) to 233:1 (iris closed). The loss of contrast with closed iris is due to internal reflection on the iris back into the light engine.
Remember our results from the ADL analysis (with a gamma of 2.2) of 53 famous movies:
- 90% of all movie pictures have a brightness below 20% (ADL=% of white)
- 80% of all movie pictures have a brightness below 13%
- 50% of all movie pictures have a brightness below 5%
- The average brightness/ADL of all analyzed movies is 8%
Overall we can say that the JVC DLA-X500 has a very good contrast performance. Especially in dark scenes you can see the potential of the projector with very deep black and excellent shadow details.
The projector JVC DLA-X500, currently sold for about 3400€ (new) and a lot less used, gives a high end home cinema experience with high contrast, deep blacks and an excellent native sharpness. Furthermore, the projector has a motorized zoom and lens-shift which makes its installation a breeze.
If you are planning to buy a projector in the price class 2500€ – 3500€, the JVC DLA-X500 is definitely one of the best choices.
Sharpness and motion:
The JVC DLA-X500 delivers a very sharp picture with a high quality lens and we were really impressed. The convergence was good, and got even better with a quick convergence correction. The numerical MPC sharpness improvement engine from JVC did not convince us and was mostly uneffective.
Also, the E-shift3 4K simulation on 1080p sources, does make the pixel structure disappear, but at the cost of making the picture look a bit softer and creating a weird moving picture noise when looking up close to the screen. In addition the E-shift activation adds a new sound/noise coming from the projector and some people may not like it. We recommend to let E-shift desactivated on 1080p content.
The natural motion handling is good but not the best in class. Also, the JVC frame interpolation while working well on low setting for most scenes, generates a strange banding on some others which was quite distracting.
The contrast behaviour is impressive, especially for dark content, with deep blacks and a lot of details. The dynamic iris was also working nicely and provided a contrast boost in dark scenes and on perfectly black pictures shuts off almost completely to plunge you completely in the dark.
The JVC DLA-X500 is a quiet projector on low lamp. The high lamp mode is more noisy, but still acceptable if needed.
Out of the box colors & calibration:
Out of the box, our unit did not show good behaviour for the colors. The greyscale needed to be corrected, because of a strong blue push. The gamma was also not good out of the box with a decreasing slope towards the high IRE and generally too low (below 2)!
However, the projector can be calibrated to the REC709 norm with its responsive controls and we especially liked the 4 points grayscale/gamma control.
Even more impressive was the JVC Autocal which provided an excellent gamma curve, and almost perfect color space reproduction. The grayscale was also linear after autocal even if the color balance was off. Using the autocal as starting point, we achieved with a manual calibration reference results with perfect colors which made the movies looked absolutly natural and superb!
Brightness & Recommended screen size
The JVC DLA-X500 is bright enough in the low power mode for projection on a 2.9m screen with a new lamp. However as the lamp ages, we recommend not to use a 16/9 screen wider than 2.6m if you plan to use the projector on low lamp mode.
– Current price!
– Excellent native sharpness with a high quality lens
– Good convergence out of the box on our reviewed sample
– Excellent ON-OFF contrast
– Almost perfect black on completely black pictures with dynamic iris activated
– Quiet on low lamp mode
– Motorized lens and lens-shift with memory
– Extensive calibration controls (gamma, grayscale, colors etc…)
– 4 points control for grayscale calibration (rare!)
– JVC Autocal with very good results for gamma and colors
– 4K compatibility (but not for HDCP 2.2 content)
– Big and heavy (14kg)
– No compatibility with 4K blu-ray
– E-shift softens the picture for 1080p content
– A calibration is necessary to get the best results
– Frame interpolation generates sometimes vertical banding
– Numerical MPC sharpness tool not very effective
– 3D with 96Hz refresh rate tiring for the eyes
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